Archive for the ‘astronomy’ Category

The End of the Universe: No Light, No Heat, No Mass, No Life

July 27, 2022

I don’t know whether it is comforting or disturbing to realize the universe will die in the future. I’m entering the 4th quarter of my life, and I’ve been thinking about my end recently, but nothing lasts forever, not even the universe. According to the majority opinion of astronomers, the universe will die between 1 to 100 trillion years from now. Ironically, the death of the universe may be related to its birth. The theory of the universe’s origin most favored by astronomers is the Big Bang Theory–a slight misnomer because Big Expansion better describes it. About 13.5 billion years ago, all matter, time, and space were contained within 1 tiny singularity. Suddenly, everything expanded at the speed of light. Scientists don’t know what existed before this expansion, but it may be that time itself didn’t exist, and the beginning of the big expansion was literally the beginning of time. It took 300 million years for primitive stars to start forming from the hydrogen to helium nuclear fusion that releases energy. Stars evolved to become more powerful, and when they used up their energy, they exploded in massive supernovas, producing heavier elements such as iron that eventually formed the core of some planets. New stars and planets created from supernovas continued to spread in the ever-expanding universe. Solar systems are the ashes of old supernovas. 9 billion years after the big expansion, earth formed.

Evolution of the universe. The universe is still relatively young, but it won’t exist forever, according to most astronomers.
The first stars were short-lived, but they spawned longer-lived stars where more heavy elements were created from nuclear fusion, following supernovas.
The universe keeps expanding. Eventually, stars will be so far apart, the night skies will be dark. After a trillion years or more, all the energy in the universe will be expended, and there will be no light, no heat, no mass, and no life.

The expansion that created the universe will cause its death. Stars will move so far away from each other due to expansion that night skies on planets will be dark. Red dwarfs, the longest-lived stars, may survive for hundreds of billions of years, but they too will fade away. When this happens, there will be no light anywhere in the universe. The temperature of the universe will be -273 degrees F, also known as absolute zero. A related theory, known as the Big Rip, suggests even matter will break apart into self-destructing atoms. The universe will be a very cold, very dark, empty space. Of course, nothing could live here.

There is an alternative cosmological theory known as the Big Crunch. This theory posits the expansion of the universe will end and gravity will pull all matter together again into a singularity. A related theory, the Big Bounce, holds that after the Big Crunch, the universe will expand again in another Big Bang and alternating Big Bangs and Big Crunches mean an eternal cycle. Currently known scientific evidence doesn’t support this theory, and it seems to be based on wishful thinking. It is a difficult, disturbing concept to think someday there will be nothing…that the end of the universe is absolute death. Perhaps. the universe will reform again from nothing, but this would be via a process unknown to science.